by Roland W. Keith
In many ways the Holy Spirit is the most mysterious member of the Godhead. Also known as the Holy Ghost, Spirit of Truth, Spirit of God, and One Spirit, among other names, He is often referred to as the third person in the Godhead. But what do we know of the Holy Spirit? For one thing He is, in fact, a spirit, not a physical being who exists in space and time as we do. On one of the occasions when Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection He made a clear distinction between man and spirit, as recorded by Luke, “But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I myself. Touch Me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have" (Luke 24:37-39).
The One Spirit is indeed a member of the Holy Trinity, often referred to in conjunction with the Father and Son, as in Matthew 28:19, when Jesus gave His apostles the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The Bible teaches a hierarchy in the Godhead, that is three beings equal in deity, but diverse in power and authority, beginning with God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and then the Holy Spirit. Together they make up “the One True God.” Much as billions of humans, equal in their humanity, make up the one entity known as mankind. However, unlike humans, with all our faults and separations, when we look at the Godhead we see perfection. Three beings of one mind, Whose works overlap, come together and support, in perfect harmony, the will of the Father, Whose authority is absolute (Acts 2:33; Hebrews 1:3; 12:2; Revelation 2:27; I Peter 3:22; I Corinthians 15:24-28).
To understand the Holy Spirit and gain some insight into His attributes we must come to a knowledge of His works, for, as with the rest of the Trinity, what God has revealed about Himself in the Bible is seen in all that He has done since the creation. For one thing the Holy Spirit is the searcher and revealer of the mind. What we can know of God is revealed by the Spirit, as Paul wrote, “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (I Corinthians 2:10-12). For the apostles He would continue their spiritual education, and assist them in remembering what they were taught, according to John, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you… But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 16:13-14; 14:26; also, 15:26-27).
Along with the apostles He gave gifts to other early Christians (I Corinthians 12:7-11), to assist in the spread of the gospel and the establishment of the church. However, when “the perfect,” that is the word of God, had come, these gifts of the Spirit ceased (I Corinthians 13:8). Once the New Testament canon was completed, these gifts faded into history as the last of that generation of Christians passed from the earth. Nonetheless, the Holy Spirit is still hard at work in bringing man to God. What the early evangelists taught by the Spirit in their sermons and lessons preachers and teachers are still teaching today by the written word, which was inspired by the Spirit of God for the edification of all men. What Paul wrote the Corinthians is true for us today: “And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:13-14).
Any person who is at least open to spiritual things can be brought to God by the Spirit, through the power of His word. One of the things the Spirit does by the word is to convict man, as John noted: “And when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). By accepting or rejecting the word each person decides his own fate, being either justified by the blood of Christ or condemned by the word he rejects. One of the things we accept or deny is the testimony of both God and man as Paul made clear to the Hebrews: “how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will” (Hebrews 2:3-4).
According to Jesus, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). The Spirit gives us life, spiritually, through the word. All we need to know about God and the salvation He promises man is in the word He gave us through the work of His Son and the Holy Spirit. For the lost it is a beacon that brings them to the path that leads to redemption. For the Christian it is the guide that keeps us on that path if we will but remain faithful to it. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. As Luke quoted the prophet, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you” (Acts 7:51). How many today, whether individuals, or entire churches resist the will of God? How many today will suffer God’s wrath because they have grieved or lied to the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30; Acts 5:3-5)?
How many today will turn away from God while claiming to pursue Him through a more enlightened approach, based on their 21st century worldview, rather than on the Bible (I Timothy 4:1)? How many will forfeit their souls because they blaspheme the Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32)? More and more today we find examples of those who resist or twist the Spirit’s words, who attribute the world’s evils to God, or make a mockery of His word, even from the pulpit. They cling to a form of Godliness (II Timothy 3:5), while denying the very word of God. The Holy Spirit was upon Jesus during His ministry (Matthew 12:17-18; John 3:34; Luke 4: 18-19; Acts 10:38), and He claimed the word He spoke was from the Father (John 8:28). In addition, He informed the apostles that the Spirit He would send to them would bear witness of Him (John 15:26), and would guide them in all truth (John 16:13). Therefore, to deny Jesus is to blaspheme the work of the Spirit as well. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Jesus’ word is the Father’s word (John 12:49), is the Holy Spirit’s word (John 14:26; II Peter 1:21). To deny one is to deny all.
If we will turn away from the world to God, the Spirit is there to help us. He fellowships with us (II Corinthians 13:14). He helps us when we are weak, interceding on our behalf with the Father (Romans 8:26-27). Along with Jesus Christ He strives with us (Romans 15:30). The Spirit works tirelessly with our Redeemer to guide and protect us and to strengthen us. Along with the Father and Son, the Holy Spirit acts to ensure that all things work for the good of all those who call on the name of the Lord.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.